Investors in Wollongong will see growth sustained by emerging local economies despite downturns in the steel industry, according to Wollongong council business development manager Brenden Logue.
In another blow to steel industry, OneSteel has announced that it will close manufacturing
This follows Bluescope Steel also culling its workforce late last year, with 800 workers and 400 contractors all given the boot.
The news is damaging to Wollongong’s already above average unemployment rate which on average sits two per cent above the state average, but is now down to 5.6 per cent.
With manufacturing on the decline, Wollongong is looking to other industries to keep the local economy afloat. For the first time in 20 years, the steel manufacturers were bucked off the profit chain, with insurance brokers taking the top position.
Wollongong will host large scale infrastructure developments with the local council announcing a $14.2 million upgrade to the Crown Street Mall and GPT, a major retail property group, announcing a $250 million project.
Mr Logue explains that the city is not just one dimensional, and will last through the potential problems.
“We have a lot more to offer than just the perceptions of a steel-making city that we’ve had for the last 30 years," he said.
“We’re seeing a decline in the steel industry because of a strong aussie dollar and cheaper international alternatives. So what we’re doing is promoting a diversification of industries.”
The Illawarra chairman of the Property Council, David Laing, agrees the times are changing and Wollongong is moving forward.
“This region is at the cusp of a new era, evolving from its traditional manufacturing base for some time, but particularly in the past decade," Mr Laing said.
“Consider the growth in our non-traditional sectors, the knowledge services and information technology, supported by a steady stream of world-class University of Wollongong graduates… export and importing services at Port Kembla, a strong and growing health sector.”